ROCKINGHAM — Mount Sinai Baptist Church has seen a lot of growth in the eight years since it’s been located on Rockingham Road — so much so that the church has already broken ground and will soon be moving to Graham Bridge Road with a brand-new facility.
Pastor Donnie Bennett said the church now has close to 300 people on the rolls with between 225 and 250 of those constant members. The uptick in membership coupled with currently being situated in the former Winn-Dixie shopping center were enough reasons to make the move.
“We want to have our church, No. 1,” said Bennett. “We don’t own the current building. We do need more space. We need classrooms because of the growth of our church. We need to have more room to do more things within the ministry.”
Expansion is key, Bennett said, but also being located in a shopping center that has a parking lot many people drive through to skip traffic can be a cause for safety concerns.
“We’re trying to get away from the commercial area, better parking, things like that,” said Bennett. “A concern is our youth being safe. People driving through the parking lot.”
Another aspect of the move will be the ability to spread out — literally. Mount Sinai currently holds a summer camp every year that’s well attended, but the current location hinders the ability to hold events and “further the ministry outside.”
The church has purchased 16.23 acres along Graham Bridge Road, which is located off Ledbetter Road, and Bennett said the entire process of building will consist of three phases.
He said the first phase, which is set to be finished by the middle of October, will be a gymnasium which will serve as a temporary sanctuary. Included in this phase will be classrooms, a kitchen and office space. Once completed, the second phase of construction on the new sanctuary will begin.
When asked if the church or Stogner Architecture, which drew up the plans for the new facility, had an artist’s rendering of what the sanctuary would look like, Bennett said they were in the process of updating the model.
“We’re working on the whole entire thing now,” he said. “We have a rendering of what it’s going to look like, but we’re going to go back and change the sanctuary and make it look more modern than what a traditional church looks like.”
The third and final phase could possibly be the biggest undertaking as Bennett envisions a senior citizens’ center for those above the age of 55 to come and have fellowship time with each other, get coffee, watch movies and possibly have a six-lane bowling alley.
Along with those amenities, Bennett would also like to see a larger parking lot, a memorial grounds and an outdoor track and ball field. He anticipates the entire project to be finished by 2020.
With 24 ministries working throughout the church, Mount Sinai does a lot in the community that a lot of people don’t even know about. But Bennett knew it was time to upgrade and let the Lord guide him in finding the perfect location.
“The Lord led us there,” he said of the new property. “We were actually looking for properties to build on, and one day I was out riding and the Lord led me to that property. In talking with the owner, we were able to purchase that property.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674, listen to him at 12:10 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on WAYN 900 AM and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.